On 13th July 2017, the Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHEJ) held its inaugural conference at Valencia Hotel themed ‘persistent poor implementation of the health sector budget: the role of he media’.
The conference kicked off with a brief introduction of participants and sponsors. There was also a panel which included the Honourable Minister of Health - Professor Isaac Adewole, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba - the president of the Community Health & Research Initiative, Dr. Luther King Fashanu - a representative of Mrs. Bukola Saraki the Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation, Dr. Mustapha Mohammed Jibrin - the Commissioner of Health Niger State and other notable people.
Professor Adewole encouraged the media to report on the happenings in the country concerning health. He noted that while things may not be as bad as people may think, Nigeria is nowhere near where the government needs it to be. He further encouraged the media to be ‘watch dogs,’ to question the government where necessary and to bring awareness. Prof. Adewole also mentioned that most of the resources that are allocated to health in Nigeria are donor funded and while that is all well and good, Nigeria needs to be able to fund some of it and not wholly depend on outside donors. He ended by thanking everyone present, unveiled the ANHEJ logo and left soon after.
When the minister left, the commissioner of health in Niger State, Dr. Jibrin spoke about the state of equipment in hospitals, most of which are privately owned. He said most of them are obsolete and some people working in the labs are not qualified which brings standard of healthcare to a new low. He acquiesced to what had already been noted that a lot needs to be done but things are moving in a more positive direction at the state level. He urged all journalists to be cautious, truthful and willing to report about health, including mental health.
Another conference to further discuss the role of the media in the health sector will be held in December 2017. Please follow ANHEJ on Twitter for more updates.